How to accept what is, without being influenced by it

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As a transformational leadership coach, resiliency is one thing I really focus on with my clients. The path to resiliency or adaptability is through making peace with your past. Letting go of the things that are sapping your energy, stealing your power and stealing your focus will open up your mental bandwidth profoundly.
One of the things that I help my clients learn to do is what I call “walking the razor’s edge”. This refers to accepting “what Is” right now without being influenced by it. In other words, being present, not resisting what’s happening and making conscious choices about how to respond regardless of what’s happening.
When you are present and accepting what Is, then you have the opportunity to choose what you think and feel and how you will respond. One of the things that I’ve watched my clients do through the practice I’m about to share with you, is reduce the refractory period when they get triggered. A refractory period is the amount of time you spend in a [negative] emotion.
I have it on good authority, #neuroscience TED Talk, that when you get triggered into a fear-based, survival-emotion response, neuropeptides are produced and released into your body where you interpret them as specific emotions (anger, frustration, rage, etc). Once those “molecules of emotion” (see Candice Pert’s work) are released and interpreted, it takes approximately 90-seconds to move through your entire body. Essentially, you completely metabolize or off-gas the molecules of that emotion in 90-seconds. After this time frame, if you are still experiencing that emotion it is because you are mentally re-experiencing the thought that created those emotions, locking you in a cycle that continues the release of those peptides. Basically, you are continuing to push the anger button whether or not you realize you’re doing it.
Why? Well, how satisfying is anger? Especially when you feel like you’re right. The delicious extravagance of righteous indignation. It’s a heady cocktail and a big hit of dopamine.
PS – It’s not healthy. The reason that I’m so familiar with the satisfaction of RIA (Righteous Indignation Anger) is because in my 20s, I had the Olympic gold medal in righteous indignation. I was afraid of my anger and I rejected it as a rule. The only way I could give myself permission to feel anger was if I felt justified. Thus, righteousness.
When you’re responding to something, you have lots of choices. Firstly, pay attention to your refractory period. You can actually track your resiliency by how long or short your refractory periods are. While you’re watching yourself respond, it’s important that you refrain from judging your reactions and time spent hitting the anger button. You’re human. There are very few humans who don’t authentically respond with fear-based survival emotions (anger, frustration, blame, etc) when challenges arise.
To be clear: Anger is a very healthy emotion. It’s there for a reason. 90-seconds is about all you need to recognize, “That’s not okay with me.” Anger can be very transformative in the small doses our bodies are designed to deliver. It tells us when a boundary has been crossed. It drives people into action. It can provide the fuel for the courage to speak your truth.
Anger is a powerful catalyst. It takes your nervous system on a “fight or flight” ride so remaining in anger OR chronically repressing/suppressing it creates dangerous stress levels that can lead to serious mental and physical health issues.
A resiliency key is to shorten your refractory period. Now that you know that anything beyond 90-seconds is you choosing to hit the anger button, the next step is to practice observing yourself in your reactions. Don’t judge, just observe. Once you get triggered, you get that pop of anger or frustration, notice how long you stay angry or frustrated. If it’s turning into a day, if it’s affecting your mood throughout the day, that is stealing your resiliency. That is going to break you eventually.
Holding on to fear-based survival emotions is going to interfere with your wellbeing. It’s going to create collateral damage in your life in ways you don’t even recognize. One day, your back goes out. One day, your marriage is over. One day, you wind up in the hospital. One day, you get sick. That’s how it happens.
You have the opportunity to reduce the refractory period with the following idea: every time anger, frustration, or blame lasts longer than 90-seconds, realize that is your commitment to taking it personally–pushing the anger button.
There is another way: push the pause button, then ask a question. Begin by recognizing your authentic truthful reaction, “Okay, I didn’t like the way I was treated. I didn’t like what happened, etc.” Take a belly breath, keep your shoulders totally still, relax your face, and take a moment. You can literally say out loud “hold on, let’s push the pause button”.
Then consider the question: is there another approach to solve this? For example, tech problems. Before I used the ‘pause and ask’ strategy, nothing made me want to flip a table more than tech problems. Eventually, my priority shifted to wanting to protect my nervous system by reducing stressful reactions so I sacrificed the dopamine hit of righteous anger. I changed my approach to, “Okay, hold on a second. Things happen. It’s nothing personal. How can I resolve this the quickest?”
When things have the potential of getting tense and stressful, try asking yourself a question that seeks resolution and see what happens to your refractory period. It might also help to remind yourself that nothing anyone does has anything to do with you. Ever. It’s all a projection of their fear-based emotions. Everyone has a choice in how they treat themselves and others. How people treat themselves will influence their reactions to things. It’s like clockwork.
I hope the ‘pause and ask’ practice reduces your stress and increases your sense of power to create harmony for yourself no matter what is happening around you. This works for my clients, so I wanted to share it with you. I love helping people become more resilient, emotionally intelligent and adaptable by letting go of the sh*t from their past.
This resiliency work can quickly help you be more adaptable so that you can be dominantly happy, healthy, and enjoy your soul satisfying life. If you need help with this or any other resilience challenge that’s affecting your life, contact me.
If this or any of my other content has helped you or provided value to you, please let me know– I would love to hear about it!